Betfair being licensed in Tasmania will be a
welcome and long-overdue portent of commercial reality finally coming to the
Australian racing industry nationally.

That is the simple sense: the nonsense has
two elements.

First, some mainland demonstrators –
representatives of RacingVictoria and the Australian Racing Board – are booked to
make a last ditch stand this week to bring the Betfair proposal undone in the
upper-house of the Tasmanian Parliament. Their protestations promise to set a
new benchmark in self-serving pleading by two industry ‘leaders’ widely
considered to have not a leg to stand on. No punters will be called to speak to
the proposal.

It is, in racing parlance, odds-on that
both these demonstrators will claim that ‘the (one) race that stops the nation’
shows how deeply rooted ‘racing’ is in the Australian culture. They will quickly
assert how important it is that potential winners can hail from the grass-roots
of rural Australia, places like Port Lincoln,
Corowa and Nowra – grass-roots racing that needs to be well watered with public
funds. It will be a short further leap of faith to say how there can never be
‘too much’ racing in Australia or ‘too much’ taken from
the punters’ pockets (taxpayers purse) to pay for it. There will be no mention
of product quality control.

Second, there is the matter of what
Tasmania will do with the revenue windfall
likely to flow from their commendable initiative to license Betfair in
Australia. The idea that even more
public money will be spent on subsidizing racing in Australia – in Tasmania of
all places – beggars belief.

Simply put, there can be no credible case for the
Tasmanian racing industry to be expanded when, Australia wide, there is already
too much racing of no material consequence that is broadcast and wagered on
nationally: of the 20,000+ races now run in Australia each year fewer than 1000
have any serious claim to be an intelligent, form-guide-based betting medium for
TAB punters.

We wish Tasmania and Betfair well but we do not want any more
public funds wasted on subsidizing unwanted racing in Tasmania or anywhere
else: TAB punters want quality not quantity and Tasmanians would surely want
something other than more superfluous racing.